It’s been confirmed via our Local Access Forum that cycling (including mountain biking) is now officially permitted on Norland Moor, above Sowerby Bridge. The decision to allow cycling was made at a council meeting on 20 January and is effective immediately.
The ban on cycling on the moor originally dated back to a bylaw from the 1980s. As an Urban Common, horse riders and walkers have full access to Norland but thanks to our convoluted legal system cycling doesn’t benefit from the same rights. Nevertheless it’s a popular inclusion on many riders’ local routes, and is also a great place for off-road family cycling due to its gentle gradient – something that’s in short supply in this part of the world.
In 2018 Calderdale Council announced a new management plan for the moor which would allow cycling, but only on a “permissive route”. We replied asking why bikes were not being given full access to the moor in the same way as similar moors in Yorkshire like Ilkley and Harden.
Apart from the obvious unfairness of restricting cycling while allowing other user groups full access, it was clear that a permissive route was likely to be unworkable: the moor is unenclosed and cyclists already use most of the tracks on it in different ways, so trying to herd them onto certain parts of it didn’t seem like a good solution for anyone.
What followed was many months of discussion with the council’s Countryside Team, who had concerns over the extra impact of more mountain bikers using the moor, then finally another round of consultation which demonstrated that a large majority of users were supportive of allowing cycling.
There is a new management plan underway for the moor and there will be new signage explaining the changes. There are also volunteer work parties on the moor and we’d recommend getting along to one of these – apart from a chance to help restore some of the moor it’s a great way to learn about it.
Details of how to get involved are on Calderdale Countryside Service’s webpage.